As adults, we have a lot of things on our plate. From bills, to raising children, and to dealing with deadlines at work, we are constantly bombarded by things we are responsible for and things we need to take care of. According to the American Psychological Association, seventy-five percent of adults experience mild to extreme stress on a regular basis. As a professional martial arts instructor, I have found that many of my students value their martial arts training not just for the self-defense benefits it brings, but also for the stress-relief they experience as a result of their training.
Martial Arts is excellent for stress-relief for several reasons:
It’s Physical: While any strenuous physical activity is beneficial for stress-relief, the martial arts are the ideal physical activity for relieving tension and stress. This due to the fact that it involves every muscle in the body, and works both the muscular system and cardiovascular systems to the highest extent possible. The act of striking a heavy bag, swinging sticks, and hitting pads after a long day at work is a great stress-reliever in and of itself.
It Requires Great Focus: Unlike running or jogging for stress-relief, the martial arts is a skill-based activity. As such, it requires the practitioner to remain extremely focused on the task at hand. Whether learning how to throw a kick, or learning how to deal against a knife attack, the martial arts demands the utmost concentration, and forces the student to be in the present moment. This takes the focus off of whatever stress in life one is experiencing.
It Gives Perspective: That bill you need to pay or that argument you had with your spouse can be troublesome, but it is certainly not as scary as dealing with a punch being thrown at your face, or a Stick being swung at your head.
It Develops Fortitude: Martial Arts, when done properly, is a both a very physically and mentally demanding activity. You will experience muscle soreness and exhaustion. If you are sparring, you will experience fear of getting hit, and the pain that comes with it. Undergoing and persevering through such training is important for developing resilience, fortitude, and just overall mental toughness which lends to dealing with life’s problems.
It Teaches Humility: Martial Arts training, particularly sparring and conditioning training, can be a very humbling activity. Getting beat or hit by an opponent forces you to keep yourself in check, and teaches you how to deal with failure. That’s okay. This learned-humility becomes an asset when dealing with a problem at work, finances, or in a relationship.
So, if you’re looking to let off some steam, get out of the cubicle and onto the mat.
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